Medical examiner: 5-year-old killed in Scarborough accidentally shot herself

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SCARBOROUGH — A 5-year-old Belfast girl died Monday, Aug. 28, when she accidentally shot herself at her grandparents’ Milliken Road home.

The state Office of the Maine Medical Examiner determined Wednesday that Elise Dorr was killed by a gunshot to the head, fired from a .45 caliber handgun stored in a backpack by her father, Todd Dorr.

The findings were announced in a press release by Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland, who said the unholstered gun did not have a trigger lock.

McCausland said the Dorr family was staying at the home of Todd Dorr’s parents at 17 Milliken Road. The backpack was on a bed in a room where Todd and Elise were watching television.

Dorr told detectives his daughter took the gun from the backpack as he went to adjust the TV. He heard it go off as he crossed the room, McCausland said.

The shooting occurred about 7:30 p.m.; McCausland said Elise died shortly after being taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. Dorr’s wife and two older children were in the home when the shooting occurred.

The autopsy was completed Wednesday morning.

“(Maine) State Police said this is a tragic reminder of how quick and unpredictable children can be around a loaded firearm and gun owners need to make sure guns are secured and out of reach when children are present,” McCausland said.

No charges have been filed, but McCausland said the investigative report will be reviewed by prosecutors when it is completed.

Scarborough Police Department detectives assisted in the investigation, and both Police Chief Robbie Moulton and Fire Chief Michael Thurlow said the impact of the shooting was felt deeply in their departments and the community.

Moulton posted a message Tuesday on the department’s Facebook page.

“There is an extended family in our community who woke up this morning feeling the loss of their little girl. Their lives will be forever changed,” he said. “I ask that you keep all of these people in your hearts over the next few days as they try to begin to heal.”

Moulton continued by asking people to step back from speculating about the shooting, or assessing blame for how it occurred.

“The Scarborough that I grew up in is a tight-knit community that supports each other in times of need,” he said. “Like any family, club, or group, we will have differences of opinions, and that is healthy, but it does not need to result in anger, hate, and disdain.”

In an email to town staff, Moulton also said he appreciated the what those who responded to the shooting had to endure.

“I hope that you all realize that you did, saw, and heard things that no person should have to,” he said. “That cannot possibly be done without some difficult feelings and reactions. That is normal. If you did not have those, I would be concerned.”

Thurlow, in an email, also thanked the town’s first-responders.

“I join (Moulton) in thanking everyone on our public safety team for their actions, support, and calls of concerns,” he said. “We are truly blessed by the love and support shown by our colleagues and members of the community, and I know that means the world to those that are struggling.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Elise Dorr, 5, of Belfast, accidentally shot herself Aug. 28 with her father’s gun at 17 Milliken Road, Scarborough.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.